Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris


11/6/1914, Bronx,New York,USA



Birth Name

Jonathan Charasuchin


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Born Jonathan Charasuchin on November 6th 1914 in The Bronx New York, Jonathan was the second of 3 children. His family barely scraped by, however his father, Sam still exposed the boy to opera and other such high class forums. Jonathan graduated from Fordham University in 1932 as…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • The first theater company Jonathan was a part of was the Millpond Playhouse in Roslyn, N.Y.. He falsified a resume and auditioned to get in.

    • Jonathan died while in the hospital due to a back injury. It was a determined the cause of death was due to a blood clot.

    • Jonathan's final film was The Bolt Who Screwed Christmas by John Wardlaw.

    • He was the first actor to receive a "Special Guest Star" credit; this was because his character was added to the series after the other characters' billing had been contractually set. Technically a regular and not a guest star, the credit means that he holds the world's record for making guest appearances in a single series - a record that is not likely to be broken in the near future.

    • Best remembered by the public for his special guest starring role as Dr. Zachary Smith on Lost in Space.

    • As a mere 8-year-old, future producer John Lasseter, who would later work with Harris in both It's a Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, was said to be a fan of Harris, prior to watching Lost in Space, which was a childhood dream come true for John.

    • Before he was an actor, he watched a lot of English movies in theaters.

    • His father, Sam Charasuchin, died in a car crash in 1977.

    • Harris and the rest of the cast were very disappointed about the cancellation of Lost in Space, in 1968, because the show was very expensive.

    • While watching B-movies, Jonathan swapped his New York City accent to a more sophisticated baritone voice, which became a trademark.

    • Jonathan was encouraged to listen to opera by his father at age 12.

    • Jonathan was of Russian and Polish descent.

    • Harris' only son, Richard, who was 16 at the time, visited the set of The Third Man, where the relationship between father and son was reconnected.

    • Jonathan met Gertrude Bregman, a high school sweetheart, who became his wife for 64 years. They had one son Richard.

    • While in high school, Jonathan didn't fit in well enough with his peers, with the exception of his future wife, Gertrude.

    • He beat out two other actors for the role of Dr. Zachary Smith in Lost in Space.

    • His Lost in Space co-star, Bill Mumy, saw him and Leonard Nimoy, at Disney World in 1996.

    • Harris died just 3 days before he would've had his 88th birthday. On that day, his family and friends attended Harris' funeral.

    • He had a long association with Irwin Allen, for 30 years. In 1995, Harris along with the other Lost in Space crew paid tribute to Allen, who died four years after.

    • Prior to co-starring with Gilbert Rowland and Dena Merrill in the 1958 Catch Me if You Can, Harris almost died, while traveling to Cuba. At that time, Fidel Castro was on verge of staging the coup. Jonathan's crew were bombed and horrified at the airport. By the time filming was completed, Castro was in power as the new dictator, the film was seized and it was never released.

    • Jonathan changed his name from Charasuchin to Harris, because his classmates were making fun of his real name, while he was in high school.

    • While he co-starred on The Bill Dana Show, many of Harris' one-liners "Oh, the pain!" was later reused on Lost in Space.

    • He was involved with the NBC TV movie, Lost in Space: The Journey Home, just weeks before his death.

    • He graduated from James Monroe High School in The Bronx, New York, in 1931.

    • Jonathan's hobbies included: cooking, reading, traveling, magic, painting, watching movies, playing piano, dancing, listening to opera, spending time with children, gardening and knitting.

    • Jonathan Harris was a frequent guest star on the Opie and Anthony, radio series.

    • Jonathan Harris made his Broadway debut in the 1942 play, Heart Of The City.

    • Jonathan Harris graduated from Fordham University with a degree in Pharmacology.

    • He refused any role in the film version of Lost In Space because he would only agree to playing Dr. Smith, the role he originated on television.

  • Quotes

    • Jonathan Harris: (On trying his hand on being a leading man of the 1940s) I thought I was Cary Grant. Oh, I looked into the mirror, and said, 'Yes, Yes. It's Cary Grant.' And then, I pulled myself together and said, 'Are you kidding?' You're a character man.

    • Jonathan Harris: (In 1997) Did you know that I hang in the Smithsonian Institution? Yes, I do! In the science-fiction hall there are three pictures of me with the robot!

    • Jonathan Harris: (From where he was born that developed his accent) I was born in New York City, and you know something interesting? My original speech was 'Listen to me! I was born on Teddy Teddy Street and Teddy Avenue, and that's the way it is, see! Want a little coffee? Let's go and have coffee, right?' I could not play a part like that, I'd fall apart laughing on the floor. It's been so long, I'd gotten away with that.

    • Jonathan Harris: (In 1998) I realized that the original concept of Smith was a deep-dyed, snarling villain, and he bored me to death. There's no longevity in a part like that. They'd have to kill me off in five episodes, and I'd be out of a job, unemployed again, right? So I began to sneak in the things for which I am -- at the risk of seeming immodest -- justly famous. Comedic villainy.

    • Jonathan Harris: (In 2002) It was the most fun in the whole world. I loved creating ... that dreadful, wonderful man.

    • Jonathan Harris: (In 1966) I am deliciously wicked. I am selfish, self-pitying, pompous, pretentious, peremptory, conniving, unctuous, scornful, greedy, unscrupulous, cruel, cowardly, egotistical and absolutely delightful. The boy [Billy Mumy as young Will Robinson] loves me, but I would gladly sacrifice him to achieve my ends.

    • Jonathan Harris: I'm not British, just affected.

    • Jonathan Harris: This is something like we have never seen before in the history of the industry.

    • Jonathan: (In 1993) My parents were absolutely aristocratic pessence in Russia, but they look very nice. My mother had wonderful, fly away eyebrows and an aquiline nose. She was a very handsome lady and very domineering, as a matter of fact and my father was Mr. Adorable, really he was.

    • Jonathan: (On his father's, Sam's death) My father was a wonderful man, who was 93 years old, when he was killed by a car in New York City, because I adored him, because he was the sweetest, good-est and my fan. He used to stop people on the street and say, 'Guess who's my son?,' and he was wonderful, he was a darling man.

    • Jonathan: (Of Bill Mumy) Billy's married and has a 3-year-old name Seth, lovely boy, and now, they're pregnant, and she's going to have a little girl in April. Twice a year, we go to the 20th Century Fox Commissary, and we have lunch in the Shirley Temple room of the 20th Century Fox Commissary. They have pictures of Shirley Temple up on the walls, and we all get together and we talked, and everybody lies what they've been up to, and we laugh and it's great fun. I enjoyed it. Billy's now in a new series called Babylon 5, which is a science-fiction thing, and he wears a hideous headdress. Oooh, he hates it and so would I!

    • Jonathan Harris: (Before he was a successful actor) I found it to be utterly boring, so I decided to lie my way into show business. I tried out for stock theater at the Mill Pond Playhouse in Roslyn, Long Island. At the tryout I made up a list of shows I had appeared in, and when the director asked me what I had done I rattled them off the tip of my tongue. I got the part, but when I showed up for the first rehearsal I didn't know upstage from downstage.

    • Jonathan Harris: Fans have shown me lots of lists over the years, but none of them were complete. I know, because I've still got the original one.

    • Jonathan Harris: We all agreed that our original name was all but unpronounceable.

    • Jonathan Harris: I spoke straight New Yorkese, I was much too poor to go to acting school, so I learned to speak by going to the movies. I watched over 200 British films. I found that the way to get rid of my accent was to superimpose another.

    • Jonathan: As usual, Martin Luther King Day was inspirational and it once again brought us together as a community. What is more important is what we do every day after we leave this celebration and thankfully, we've been successful in meeting challenges that have come before and we will continue to do so.

    • Jonathan: (about his Special Guest Star billing) That was the first time ever in history that anybody got Special Guest Star. I started that whole nonsense.

    • Jonathan Harris: (On the cancellation of Lost in Space) When the curtain comes down, you're disappointed. Always, the curtain comes down. I've done so much work, and then, the curtain comes down and you go on to something else.

    • Jonathan: (On how he created the part of Dr Zachary Smith) I patterned him on every kid I ever knew.

    • As Dr. Smith: Never fear! Smith is here!

  • Ah,Dr.Smith!

    Dr.Smith-That self-serving rogue, from the 1960's series, "Lost In Space", will forever be the the character that Jonathan Harris is remembered for. Good? Bad? Indifferent? It doesn't matter, when one supporting character is able to take over an entire series, then they have power, in the writers, but most of all in the actor, behind the role. No one will ever be associated with the role of Dr.Smith, but Jonathan Harris. Gary Oldman, a consumate character actor, couldn't bring any life to Dr.Smith, in the film version, of "Lost In Space", at all. He was "lost", in a role, that was lost to him to begin with!!!moreless
  • The very soul of Lost in Space!

    He is indeed the soul of the show Lost in Space. Without him, they couldn't have a show. He is the ultimate anti-hero. He is good in the deep but his dark nature is too powerful and he always tend to do bad things. Harris' performance was superb and nobody could make it better. He was a very talented actor. I remember to see him in the old Zorro show and he was totally other person, true evil. That's too bad that he didn't get other real live shows after Lost in Space. At least he was very active doing voices for several cartoon series.moreless